Tuesday 27 June 2017

McCann to step down as Wireless chief executive

John McCann is stepping down as chief executive of Wireless. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
John McCann is stepping down as chief executive of Wireless. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan

John McCann is to step down as chief executive of Wireless, only days after the company completed the sale of its television business.

In a stock exchange announcement, the owner of a network of radio stations, including TalkSport, FM104 and Q102, said Mr McCann, above, will retire at the company's annual general meeting in May.

Non-executive chairman Richard Huntingford will replace him.

Mr McCann (62) had been expected to retire this year. He has been with the company since 1983 and had been chief executive for the past 16 years.

Analysts universally praised Mr McCann for the job he did as CEO. One of his last acts was to sell the UTV Ireland TV business he launched to great fanfare last year.

The new channel struggled to gain traction however and the company issued four profit warnings as a result.

Before its January 2015 launch, the station was expected to lose £3m (€3.9m) by the end of last year, mostly related to startup costs.

In March the loss estimate increased to £6m before rising further to £8.5m in May and then £11.5m at the end of June. By November however that number had ballooned to €18m.

Mr McCann though engineered a sale its TV assets, which also includes UTV Northern Ireland, to ITV for €136m - a move strongly praised by analysts. Goodbody Stockbrokers' Gavin Kelleher said Mr McCann had "transformed" the business.

With Mr Huntingford taking over, Wireless will unusually have one person in the role of chairman and chief executive. It is understood that the company believes splitting the positions is not neccesary given the size of the business.

Mr Huntingford previously headed Chrysalis Group.

Irish Independent

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